17311 Slices
Medium 9781855754676

2: Destructiveness and play: Klein, Winnicott, Milner

Lesley Caldwell Karnac Books ePub

Michael Podro

Thirty years after The Interpretation of Dreams, literary criticism reabsorbed—reclaimed—Freud's use of poetics in his analysis of wit and the dream work; it reclaimed the sense of conflicting meanings or condensed meanings and their expressive possibilities, pre-eminently in Britain with William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity. The core of their shared thought was that the mind, in making and responding to poetry (to keep to poetry for the moment), moved between two psychic functions: that which observed rational stringencies and conventions and, in contrast to it, a regression that loosened those stringencies, allowing the play of ambiguity, disrupting conscious and consistent thought to open the way for new kinds of awareness. One should perhaps still observe that this “regression” had, as in wit and the dream work, its own structuring capacity.

Subsequently, in the mid-century, there had been a bifurcation in psychoanalytic thinking that might be represented by the difference between two notions of disruption and destructiveness. Melanie Klein and those under her influence saw the underlying scenario within mental life as constituted by the fantasies of aggression towards the loved maternal figure and the struggle to escape the remorse that this produced; this re-enacted itself as a conflict between egotistical imperiousness as opposed to a sense of personal limitation and concern for others. In the literary criticism under Klein's aegis, this is taken to be the subject matter or the thematic material of art, even giving to art the rationale of symbolizing the restitution of the damaged internal object by the integration and harmony of the achieved work (Klein, 1929).

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Medium 9781855751576

2. Freud, Breuer, and hysteria: the cathartic method

David L. Smith Karnac Books ePub

If you laid your finger on my shoulder, it would affect you like fire running through your veins. The possession of the least place on my body will give you sharper joy than the conquest of an empire. Offer your lips! My kisses taste like fruit ready to melt into your heart! Ah! how you’ll lose yourself in my hair, breathing the scent of my sweet-smelling breasts, marvelling at my limbs, and scorched by the pupils of my eyes, between my arms, in a whirlwind.

Gustave Flaubert, The Temptation of Saint Anthony

In July 1883, Vienna was in the grips of a heatwave. On 13 July, the 27-year-old Sigmund Freud left the laboratory at the Physiological Institute and made his way to the home of Josef and Matilda Breuer on the Brandtstatte. After arriving, Freud was invited to have a bath to wash off the sweat and grime of the day. He and the Breuers dined together, and Sigmund and Josef sat up talking far into the night. One of the matters on Breuer’s mind was his patient Bertha Pappenheim, whom he had ceased treating for hysteria and had committed to a sanatorium the day before.

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Medium 9781855756267

The Dream of the Three Theatre Tickets: A reflection on the sources

Umberto Barcaro Karnac Books ePub

We first consider a dream reported by Freud in the 12th Lecture of his Introduction, entitled “Some analyses of sample dreams” (Freud 1916–1917). The dreamer was a neurotic subject. The manifest dream is the following:

Dream Report: “He was travelling in a railway-train. The train came to a stop in open country. He thought there was going to be an accident and that he must think of getting away. He went through all the coaches in the train and killed everyone he met—the guard, the engine-driver, and so on.” (p. 197)

The indicated memory sources are listed below (we have preferred to number them): of course, the attribution of the various excerpts to separate sources is simply derived by a logical reflection on the contents of the text.

Source 1: “He thought of a story told him by a friend. A lunatic was being conveyed in a compartment on an Italian line, but through carelessness a traveller was allowed in with him. The madman killed the other traveller.” (p. 197)

Freud's comment to this association is:

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Medium 9781855751392

3. The analyst's inner task

Neville Symington Karnac Books ePub

Iam sitting in my consulting-room and there is a knock on the door. I open it, and standing there in the doorway is a middle-aged lady with grey hair.

I shake her by the hand and I notice that she is wearing a red dress and black shoes. She pauses hesitantly and then rushes rather quickly to an armchair and sits in it. As I take my own seat, I detect the scent of Chanel No. 5. I had not met this woman before, but I have now touched her, seen her, heard her, and smelt her. These perceptual facts can be explained in terms of my sensory receptors and their link through the central nervous system to my brain. So I touch her, see her, hear her, and smell her, but I also feel her. I also know that she feels me. There is an interpersonal psychic experience whose physical correlate would be similar to two blind people feeling each other all over until each one begins to “know by feeling” the other.

The communication of feelings

When this woman came into my consulting-room, I received a very accurate feeling representation of her which became encoded in my inner affective representational life. But my problem is that I am not in touch with this inner representation. There is a barrier between my ego and this representation. This means that I have affective knowledge of this woman in my consulting-room, but I do not have conscious awareness of it. To illustrate from my own experience that such a psychic registration does indeed take place, I will relate an experience that occurred some years back.

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Medium 9781855757028

6. Ineluctable Nodalities: On the Borromean Knot

Dany Nobus Karnac Books ePub

Ineluctable Nodalities: On the Borromean Knot

Luke Thurston

I. Introduction

The first step towards an understanding of the Borromean knot—the key figure in the topological elaborations which were the central preoccupation of the last ten years of Lacan's life—is to separate it from its legendary penumbra. A predominant image of the knot as the emblem of a terra incognita of dark, abstruse speculation, the incomprehensible grand finale of Lacanian theory, has led to two opposing forms of misunderstanding: on one side, a sort of transferential supposition of knowledge, elevating the knot to the status of a hieratic mystery, a master signifier available only to the initiated; on the other, the idea of the knot as an irrelevant scholastic whim, which has allowed hostile critics to dismiss any talk of psychoanalytic topology as mere étourderie (absent-mindedness), echoing the title of a famously difficult Lacanian text from 1973.1

If Lacan was himself at times during the 1970's complicit with a certain imaginary notion of the knot (he occasionally allowed his stylistic elegance to slip into self-dramatization, causing one of his followers to refer ironically to ‘the epic of the Borromean knot’), we should not allow its legendary aura to hinder our efforts to analyze its emergence and development in Lacan's thought, and to try to grasp some of the problems and questions it raises.2

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